…and mushrooms. They’re not plants, so I guess fungi count as critters, right? Anyway, in the past few weeks I’ve had quite a few nature encounters here in Sweden.
Last Saturday I went on a mushroom-picking expedition with other exchange students. We took the bus to Höör, a small town about 45 minutes from Lund. (Please don’t try to pronounce Höör if you are inexperienced in Swedish. I don’t want to be responsible for any language-related injuries).
I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but in Sweden they have something called Allmansrätt, which means Every Person’s Right (as an aside, I am not just being overly PC translating “man” as “person”. It really does mean “one” or “person” in Swedish). Anyway, allmansrätt means that you are allowed to forage, camp, fish, and otherwise hang out pretty much anywhere that isn’t someone else’s actual home. So we took off into the woods around Höör. We had a couple of mushroom experts to tell us which ones were good, bad, and ugly. Most of them were just bad – not poisonous, but awful tasting. I didn’t realize that mushrooms could be spicy. A lot of them had this weird burning bitter flavor.
I did come home with a small bag of mushrooms (none of them were the tasty but elusive chanterelles, though), and I made cream of mushroom soup with them. Here is a shot of the mushrooms before I cleaned and chopped them. I don’t have a picture of the soup, but it was beautiful and it tasted great.
They also have a little bird zoo in Höör that we visited. I got really close to this guy and took a bunch of pictures. I had no idea what kind of bird this was – I guessed emu, but there was a guy from New Zealand on the trip (a bird ecologist, no less!) who emphatically insisted that it was not an emu. Turns out it’s called a nandu, and it’s native to South America He is so evil-looking!
And last but not least, a hedgehog. This is the first hedgehog I’ve ever seen in real life! My friends and I saw him lumbering across the walkway as we were walking home from the nation last weekend. I was so excited to see my first. real. hedgehog. that I took some pictures with the flash in his face. He must have been blinded and terrified, but he didn’t try to move, not even to curl up in a ball. I hope he made it home safely.
Thank God it’s the weekend. This week has been heavy on the labs – I’ve been in school 8-5 almost every day.